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By Sean Markey with Max Hawthorne (author)
Firstly Max, I’d like to say congratulations on Kronos Rising. I thoroughly enjoyed it. How have you found the general reaction to the book now that some time has passed since its release?
Thanks, Sean. Reader reaction to KR has been excellent and reviews, editorial and fan-based, have been wonderful. On Facebook, the Kronos Rising Novel Series fan page has 20,000 followers, with no signs of slowing. I try to be very communicative with my readers via social media, and what I hear most from them is that they like not only my writing style, but also my attention to detail. That type of feedback is very important to me. When constructing a serious novel the most important thing is achieving a suspension of disbelief, and I work very hard at it.
The sequel to your first book about a prehistoric sea monster running amok in the modern times is entitled Kronos Rising: Kraken – Volume 1, after the colossal octopus-like beast from Greek mythology. Have you drawn any inspiration from the (somewhat dubious) hypothesis proposed by the McMenamins a few years ago, where they proposed that a species of 100-foot-long prehistoric ‘Kraken’ may have been responsible for the deaths of numerous ichthyosaurs during the Triassic period?
I draw my inspiration from many sources. However, the McMenamins may not be as far off as people think. From my understanding, the vertebrae they studied are hydrodyamically unstable and are not laid out in order, meaning the Shonisaurs didn’t just die and rot away, leaving their spinal columns conveniently arranged. The vertebral arrays couldn’t have just randomly ended up that way; something must have moved them against the tide and current into those neat, sucker-like patterns. Interesting, wouldn’t you say?
Whether or not there was any much merit to the McMenamins’ Triassic Kraken concept, I think we can all agree that the idea of such a large predator with high levels of intelligence has got to be an appealing (and terrifying) prospect. Will your novel’s Kraken be a creature of great intellect as well as strength and size?
Cephalopods are highly intelligent animals. In fact, it’s widely believed that, if they didn’t have such short lifespans, it would be octopi, and not humans, that emerged as the dominant species on this planet. That said, although I can’t picture my Kraken playing chess, I do make an effort to show things from the “monster’s” perspective. I try to put my readers inside each of my beasts, so they get a sense of its personality and a better idea of why it does the things it does. It makes each creature less of a set piece and more of an antagonist and, in my humble opinion, adds to both the experience and the terror.
Speaking of big, Kronos Rising was a decent-sized book at some 500 pages long – how long will Kraken be?
Kraken ended up being a two-volume set, with each book being approximately the size of book one – 194,000 words. Although the crafty publishers at Far From The Tree Press managed to keep the page count down to around 550, it’s still a big book. I like that they worked hard to reduce costs and then passed those savings onto the reader. Normally, publishers start with a 6×9 hardcover that costs around $25.00. Kraken will be a 6×9 softcover with a suggested retail of only $13.99 ($6.00 less than book 1). In addition, I’m sure online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble will offer additional discounts. From a business perspective, it’s all about putting out a great product at an affordable price.
The fact that Kronos Rising: Kraken is such a big adventure that it needs to be split into two parts begs a tantalising question; just how many books do you plan to write for the Kronos Rising saga in its entirety?
Initially, the plan was for a four book series – three sequential stories, followed by a prequel. However, with Kraken ending up as two novels and my creative juices overflowing, we are now looking at five books plus a prequel, so six in all.
Getting down to the story side of things, have you any plot details for us? What turn of events have unleashed the Kraken so to speak?
As you know from plot points that were previously released, the story picks up thirty years after the fracturing of Diablo Caldera and the attacks on Paradise Cove. The hatchlings that emerged at the end of book one have all matured and spread out, and they and their offspring have had a substantial impact on the ecology of the oceans. These changes have caused something, or possibly, some-things, to emerge from the deep and come a-calling.
Is the Kraken actually evil (like some kind of Lovecraftian monster) or is it just an animal like the pliosaur in book one?
If we’re talking diabolical forces at work, then no, the creature is not inherently evil. It’s an animal – a force of nature, per se. However, it is cunning and nasty. Possibly even more so than the Kronosaurus imperator cow that perished at the end of book one.
I think my readers would be angry with me if I didn’t ask; what are the chances of seeing a pliosaur versus Kraken smackdown in this book? Some of the very best sequences in Kronos Rising featured battles between different species of marine predator, so I’m sure the fans would salivate at the idea of a giant pliosaur getting to do battle with an equally scary monster.
I’m not giving out spoilers, but I think my readers know by now that I have a talent for developing climactic battle sequences between both human and non-human adversaries. That said, you’re going to be treated to some exciting scenes. In fact, if you go on the new website at www.kronosrising.com and register for the free chapter download, you get the first brawl right off the bat.
Kronos Rising featured cameos from other cool prehistoric sea monsters, including mosasaurs (the aquatic beastie as seen in Jurassic World). Will Kraken feature any ‘guest appearances’ of this nature? I know there’s one ancient sea monster that is even more notorious than all of the sea reptiles put together; the megalodon shark. Adding one of them to the mix would certainly gain people’s attention for the book!
There are cameo appearances by a variety of sea beasts in Kraken (vol. 1) and yes, it is distinctly possible that there is a very large megalodon shark involved in the story. Of course, as I do with any of the other marine creature I utilize, I made it a point to research the “extinct” mackerel shark and devise a version based on my own, personal theories. The end product may not be what some people anticipate, but it is extremely realistic and particularly nasty.
So far in this interview, I think I’ve gotten a bit carried away with the whole “Who would win in a fight?” angle, focusing a lot on ferocity and carnage. But one thing that really impressed me about Kronos Rising as a book was the attention to detail in terms of science. Now, obviously a lot of the content was quite fantastical, but it was written in such a way that it all felt fairly realistic and plausible. How do you intend to bring this same level of scientific sensibility to a sequel which will, assumedly, be upping the ante in terms of gigantic monsters and set pieces that will need to top those which took place in the first Kronos Rising book in order to recreate that “Wow!” factor?
To me, it’s like comparing the movie “Alien” to “Aliens.” The original sets the stage, introduces you to the creature, and scares the hell out of you. But the sequel lets you do so much more in terms of numbers, settings, additional characters and technology (remember, we’re 30 years in the future) and, of course, the introduction of bigger, badder beasties. However, the key will always be researching your subject matter and being able to put it on paper in such a way that you achieve the ultimate goal – a suspension of disbelief.
Rumours have been floating about that Kronos Rising: Kraken will feature some material that is a bit more ‘adult’ in nature than what we got in the first book. Can you comment on this? We aren’t straying into the prehistoric erotica sub-genre are we?
You know, Sean, I honestly can’t picture myself sitting around writing erotica all day. Not that sex doesn’t sell, it obviously does. We live in a “50 Shades of Gray” age where women try to “break the Internet” by exposing themselves and the raunchiness of Deadpool ended up rocking the box office. I clumsily flirted (pun intended) with a romantic scene in Kronos Rising (KR was my first novel, as you recall). There are a couple of love scenes in Kraken, as the plot dictated, but no more than one would expect in any other book of its genre (horror/sci-fi/romance). Of course, I do strive for complete realism in everything I write, so if you’re delving into an “adults only” scene in one of my books, rest assured it’s going to be intense.
While fans of the Kronos Rising books will no doubt consider it a series ripe for the big screen treatment, with In the Heart of the Sea, a story which shares its roots with maritime classic Moby Dick (a book which you’ve gone on the record as being one of your biggest inspirations) not exactly setting the box office alight recently (directly competing with Star Wars probably isn’t helping matters!), are you concerned that this may have a negative effect on Kronos Rising’s chances of being brought to the silver screen in the same way that interest in the MEG movie seems to have cooled off recently?
I’m far from an expert on film production, Sean. I saw In The Heart of the Sea and felt it was a decent enough film, but yes, I am concerned that the movie’s less-than-sterling box office results may have a detrimental effect on future marine terror flicks. I can’t comment on the “MEG” movie’s reported production delays. I do believe that, between “Shark Week” and all the “Sharknado” and “Mega-Shark” movies on TV, the public pretty much has all the material in the genre they can handle. That said, I think the monumental success of Jurassic World is a strong indication of how the public would respond to Kronos Rising as a major motion picture. KR’s plotline, set pieces, characters and even the monster itself all have proven appeal. At the end of the day, however, it’s out of my hands. All I can do is do my best on revising the script. At that point, it’s up to the studio execs to decide if my beast sinks or swims.
Lastly, and quite importantly, when can we expect to see Kraken on bookshelves and where can we buy it?
Kraken will be on presale in e-book formats on Amazon, Kobo & B&N on April 6th, with the formal release date for all formats being April 24th. With my publishers being a small indie house, calling your favourite book store ahead to order a copy or ordering online is usually the fastest option. Personally, I like to use Amazon. Between the discounts they offer, free shipping offers and what usually ends up being 2-day delivery, they’re like one of my monster pliosaurs; you just can’t beat them!